Results for category "Film Reviews"

The Lone Ranger *****


Run Time: 149 mins Cert: 12A


Synopsis: Tonto (Depp) remembers his days with John Reid (Hammer) and how the sole survivor of a massacre of Texas Rangers by the notorious outlaw Butch Cavendish (Fichtner) and his gang became the masked man bringing justice in the Old West.


The makers of the Pirates of the Caribbean series return with a classic high octane adventure, that studios used to release in days gone by.


Firstly forgot everything that has been highlighted in the media. The movie may have cost $215 million to make and delayed by two years, but like World War Z it is no where near the disaster that many critics have made this out to be.


The story initially written by Pirates writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, with a second take conducted by Revolutionary Road’s Justin Haythe have made an interesting take on an origin story taken from the sidekicks point of view. Tonto with his broken English and madcap ranting is very much the brains of the outfit. While Reid is not the brave and dashing vigilante but a bumbling fool with a hatred of guns although he is still a loner. Even the actual episodic structure feels a refreshing change in a summer blockbuster.


Depp and Hammer make a fantastic double act, both reacting with each other in perfect timing. The relationship between the two leads plays out like a wacky western Odd Couple. It may play for laughs, but it does not feel too ridiculous, rather more engaging than distracting.


While classic character actor William Fichtner plays the heart eating villain Butch Cavendish, with such venom that every moment he chews the scenery, he steals every scene that he is in. Luther’s Ruth Wilson gives the role of unconventional adventurous damsel emotional gravitas. While Tom Wilkinson’s character feels slightly underdeveloped.


Gore Verbinski has made a stunning looking film with spectacular mind blowing action scenes. All the money spent is clearly on screen. Not since the John Ford westerns has Monument Valley looked so beautiful.


The movie is flawed. There are far too many characters. Wilkinson’s character needed to be more empathetic and the middle act seems to drag slightly and could almost certainly have cut the overlong running time down.


But this is definitely the most enjoyable and fun movie of the summer. Audiences will find it difficult to stay still in their seats once Rossini’s William Tell Overture finally erupts during the finale.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

The World’s End ****


Run Time: 109mins Cert: 15


Synopsis: Gary King (Simon Pegg), decides to track down his estranged friends and complete the Golden Mile, an infamous pub crawl encompassing 12 pubs in their hometown of Newton Haven. The group attempted the crawl as teenagers, but failed to reach the final pub, the World’s End..


Director Edgar Wright and co return to finish the last part of their “Cornetto” trilogy. After the rom zom com of Shaun of the Dead and comedy action thriller Hot Fuzz, Frost Pegg and Wright have gone for an apocalyptic sci fi comedy for the finale, with a satirical razor sharp wit that audiences have come to expect from the Spaced team.


The story focuses on the theme of growing up, while showing Britain as a dull place full of franchise chain pubs and superimposed high streets. Not to mention the usual mix of barroom brawls, movie references and a funky musical soundtrack. However the tone of the piece seems disjointed as the first half is solely a comedy, while the second part is more drama and action driven.


Usually it would be Frost that plays the annoying joker of the pack, but in a refreshing take Pegg is now this archetypal character and dials it up to 11. In doing this Frost shows his acting skills by the straight man for once. While the rest of the cast including Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan are equally as good supporting the two leads. Unfortunately
Rosamund Pike’s Sam is memorable, but underused. This may be to do with the fact that it is a boys to men story.


Wright brings his trademark flashy direction and jump cut editing that have graced the other two parts. After tackling the fantastic, but under performing Scott Pilgrim, many would have expected the director to pick a small project to follow up on. If anything this seems bigger especially in effects, but probably cost half of what it took to make the comic book adaptation.


Not the best of the trilogy, but The World’s End has enough laughs, surprise cameos and clever twists to make this a successful finale. Hopefully the team will decide to make more flavours.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

The Conjuring ****


<Run Time: 112mins Cert: 15

Synopsis: Roger and Carolyn Perron (Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor), along with their five daughters, move to a secluded farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island. Soon, a dark presence starts to terrorise the family. They seek help from world renowned paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga). Forced to confront a powerful demonic entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most horrifying case of their lives.


Based on true events, James Wan’s 2013 horror movie tells the story of a family that finds their house tormented by evil spirits.


The sound is excellent, particularly the creaking and banging sounds made by the spirits at regular intervals throughout the film. Combined with the use of a handheld camera that follows the characters through the house, this creates a scary atmosphere that will have the audience holding onto their seats.


“The Conjuring” has well developed characters and relationships between the Warren and Perron families feature heavily throughout the movie. This adds a level of depth that is rarely seen in horror films.


In terms of acting, Lili Taylor stands out in her role as a mother possessed by demons Wilson and Farmiga also give great performances as the couple who arrive to investigate while Joey King is enjoyable to watch as Christine, the child who is most affected by the spirits’ presence.


With its old school scary movie theme, real life basis and top class cinematography, “The Conjuring” is a must see for any horror fan.


Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Monster’s University ****



Run Time: 110mins Cert: U

A direct prequel to the original “Monsters Inc”, the movie tells the story of how Sully (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal) met and came to work in the factory.


The film begins when Mike (Crystal) visits the factory on a school trip and decides he wants to become a scarer. Years later, Mike begins studying at Monsters University where he meets Sully (Goodman), a monster with an established family history.


The story is enjoyable and relates to the original while still providing a good level of suspense to the audience. Throughout the movie, Mike and Sully experience the highs and lows of University life and have a turbulent relationship prior to joining forces.


Both Goodman and Crystal give great performances as the lead characters. The supporting cast includes Steve Buschemi as Randy and Helen Mirren as Dean Hardscrabble, both of whom also perform to a high standard.


The animation is top class and looks great in 3D. The soundtrack is also fun and appropriate to the film.


While “Monsters University” is not as good as the original, it is an entertaining and fun movie that ties things up nicely.


Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Behind The Candelabra ****



Run Time: 118 mins Cert: 15


Synopsis: Directed by Steven Soderbergh, “Behind The Candelabra” tells the real life story of pianist Liberace and his relationship with Scott Thorson.


The film begins in 1976 when Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) meets Bob Black (Scott Bakula) in a bar. The two men become friends and Bob takes Scott to see Liberace (Michael Douglas) perform in Las Vegas. After being taken backstage to meet the musician, Scott forms a friendship with him and accepts his offer to work as his companion and personal assistant. This leads to a relationship between them, which the movie follows from start to finish.


Over the next few years, Scott and Liberace embark on a relationship that is intense and somewhat bizarre from the pianist’s side. While it’s clear he has sexual feelings for Scott, his desire to adopt the young man as his son leads the audience to question what he really wants. In the early part of the film he showers Scott with expensive presents and buys him a house nearby, saying this will give him security. As things go downhill, Scott is reminded of the gifts when he expresses dissatisfaction and the house is eventually taken back.


From the outset it’s obvious Scott has genuine feelings for the older musician and will go to great lengths to please him. This is particularly apparent when he agrees to undergo plastic surgery to make him look more like his partner. He is also led down the path of drug addiction by Dr Jack Startz (Rob Lowe) who convinces him that a cocktail of drugs known as “The California Diet” will make him more attractive. While it appears to work initially, things go pear shaped as Liberace craves attention from other men and Scott becomes dependent on drugs.


Despite it being a biopic, there is a lot of comedy throughout the film. Michael Douglas is entertaining and camp as the lead character. Sporting a dark wig and spectacular outfits he bears a strong resemblance to Liberace and adapts his voice to the role which adds both realism and comedy to his performance.


Out of all the actors, Matt Damon is the one that truly shines in this movie. Throughout his transformation from the young animal trainer who dreams of being a vet to the trophy boyfriend that will do anything to keep his famous lover happy, he gives an enjoyable and deep performance as Scott. This makes the audience care about the character and despite knowing the outcome in advance, the audience is likely to feel disappointment when things don’t work out.


The supporting cast perform well with Dan Aykroyd appearing as Liberace’s manager and Rob Lowe as his plastic surgeon. His image will make the audience laugh while providing a realistic portrayal of an individual obsessed with enhancements. Scott Bakula also gives a good performance as Bob, the man who introduces the main characters. Apart from Debbie Reynolds’ role as Liberace’s mother and a brief appearance by Scott’s foster mother, there are no women to be seen.


Overall “Behind The Candelabra” gives viewers an insight into the final years of Liberace’s life whilst remaining interesting and fun throughout.


Reviewed by Lesley Logan

The Big Wedding **



Run Time: 89 mins              Cert: 15


Synopsis: With an all star cast, “The Big Wedding” shows the audience what happens when a dysfunctional family gets together for a wedding.


Set in a small American town, the movie begins when Ellie (Diane Keaton) arrives at the house lived in by her ex husband Don (Robert De Niro) and his long term girlfriend Bebe (Susan Sarandon). It is revealed she has come back for the wedding of she and Don’s adopted son Alejandro (Ben Barnes) and his fiance Missy (Amanda Seyfried), who are seen meeting with a rather comic priest (Robin Williams) prior to their marriage.


At the same time, Ellie and Don’s oldest child Lyla (Katherine Heigl) arrives on the maternity ward where middle child and 30-year-old virgin Jared (Topher Grace) works as a doctor. Despite her fainting at the site of the babies, she and Jared head for dinner with the rest of the family and a series of comic but cringeworthy events begins.


Since his biological mother is arriving from Colombia and is a devout catholic, Alejandro requests his parents pretend to still be married. This results in a fallout between Don and his girlfriend Bebe, and some particularly ludricrous scenes as the family attempt to hide her existence. While the main arc does provide amusement, it just seems ridiculous from start to finish.


Other subplots within the movie include Jared’s quest to lose his virginity and Lyla’s infertility. Attempts by the writers to give either of the siblings depth fail miserably and while neither Grace nor Heigl is unpleasant to watch, both their stories feel somewhat like a bad soap opera mixed with a sketch show.


While De Niro, Keaton and Sarandon are entertaining enough to watch, none of them seem to put a lot of effort into playing their characters. Robin Williams gives a very good comic performance as Father Monighan but is under utilised while Amanda Seyfried basically reprises her “Mamma Mia” character. With a big name cast like this, performances are disappointing. However this is more down to a weak story and poor character development than the actors themselves.


Overall, “The Big Wedding” is disappointing. Despite a well known cast and amusing premise, the film has very little story and feels more like a stage play.


Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Fast & Furious 6 ***



Run Time: 130 mins Cert: 12A


Synopsis: Following the revelation that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is alive and working for master criminal Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team of are hired by Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to rescue her and foil Shaw’s plans.


After finally being successfully rebooted with Fast Five, the never ending car chase franchise makes a return with mixed results.


The series has gone from being about racing and gang warfare to be being about heists and family. The biggest problem with this particular episode is that everything has been revealed in the trailer, apart from the scene in the credits. There is no surprises.


The storyline while formulaic is entertaining. It is set before Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift’s timeline. Having a gang going against another gang is a novel twist. Unfortunately there are just too many characters with underdeveloped stories. Evans villain is a victim of this as his bad guy is just plain dull with about as much charisma as he has useful henchmen.


While the Letty comeback seems like it is too easy a solution, the comedic sparring between Diesel’s team and The Rock is amusing. While the dialogue is full of terrible puns and catchphrases that seem to have been left over from an 80’s action movie.


The action sequences are probably the most exhilarating and exciting moments of this franchise, no matter how ridiculous the scenario (how long is a runway?).


Over the top, edge of your seat entertainment which is flawed, but fun.


Reviewed by Paul Logan

The Hangover Part III ****



Run Time: 100 mins            Cert: 15


Synopsis: Following Chow’s escape from prison and the death of Alan’s father, the final installment in the Hangover trilogy takes the audience on another badly behaved road trip.


The movie begins when Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) escapes from prison in Bangkok while Alan (Zack Galifianakis) gets into a scrape involving a giraffe that results in a fatal heart attack for his father. Following the funeral, Alan’s friends decide to stage an intervention and persuade him to undergo treatment in a psychiatric clinic. Having agreed to this, Alan is on his way to the clinic accompanied by Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha) and Stu (Ed Helms) when they are run off the road by Marshall (John Goodman) and his henchmen. It transpires Chow has stolen gold from Marshall and unless the guys can find Chow and his gold within three days, he will kill Doug.


In a similar manner to the previous installments, the main characters resort to outrageous and illegal stunts to find Marshall’s gold and get into sticky situations throughout the film. From their reunion with Chow to their return to Vegas where it all began, the story is entertaining and well written. While the audience may not laugh as hysterically at “The Hangover Part III” as they would have during the first two films, there are still some very comic moments.


The three leads give great performances and remain true to their characters. Zack Galifianakis in particular gives another wacky and amusing performance as Alan, while Cooper and Helms are enjoyable to watch as his loyal friends who once again embark on a crazy journey courtesy of Alan and Chow (Jeong). The supporting cast also perform to a high standard with the addition of John Goodman as scary mob boss Marshall, Melissa McCarthy as the pawn shop owner and the return of Heather Graham as Jade the stripper.


The film’s soundtrack is both fun and appropriate with music from Hanson, Billy Joel and Nine Inch Nails. A particular highlight is Ken Jeong’s performance of “I Believe I Can Fly” and while it’s obvious Zack Galifianakis doesn’t actually sing “Ave Maria”, it adds to the scene and fits the character.


Overall, “The Hangover III” is a good comedy that wraps up the trilogy nicely. While there aren’t many huge twists, it is far from boring and the ending does not disappoint.


Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Mud ****




Run Time: 131 mins Cert: 12A


Synopsis: While exploring an island in rural Mississippi, two teenage boys meet a mysterious man named Mud and help him reunite with his girlfriend.


Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, “Mud” begins when teenage boys Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) discover a boat in a tree while visiting a small island near their home in Mississippi. On investigation they realise someone is living there and subsequently meet Mud (Matthew McConaughey). Mud tells them he is there to reunite with his girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) so they can leave together. Feeling sorry for him, the boys decide to help Mud in exchange for a gun he promises them.


The story is deep and well written but seems to lose it’s way as it progresses. Although there are elements of action and suspense, it is more of a character driven drama than a thriller and is largely built on relationships rather than events. Towards the end there are a few twists but the ending is disappointing. On leaving the cinema, the audience are likely to wonder why the last few minutes were included as the writer had a perfect opportunity to end the movie on an ambiguous note but chose not to do it.


From the outset it is obvious there are different sides to Mud (McConaughey) and the viewer learns more about him throughout the film. His relationship with Juniper (Witherspoon) is central to the story but they only have one scene together. Witherspoon is very average in her role as Juniper. Her character is a woman that does what she wants regardless of the consequences for other people. This makes for an interesting love story which sees Mud risk everything for the woman he loves despite it being clear to the viewer that she only loves herself. Mud’s relationship with retired marine Tom (Sam Shepherd) is also interesting to watch. They have a father-son dynamic that is a recurrent theme throughout the movie.


Tye Sheridan gives a realistic portrayal of a teenager dealing with realities such as rejection and family breakdown. Throughout the movie, the viewer sees Ellis interact with a variety of people including his parents, best friend Neckbone, high school girl May Pearl and most importantly Mud. The relationships he forms with those around him are enjoyable to watch and give the character plenty of depth. Despite having a less significant role, Jacob Lofland also gives a good performance as Neckbone, a boy who has grown up without his parents and spends most of his time fishing with his uncle and exploring with Ellis.


Overall, “Mud” is an enjoyable film with a solid plot and well developed characters. Although at 131 mins it is a bit longer than necessary, the movie remains interesting and is worth watching.


Reviewed by Lesley Logan

The Great Gatsby ***


Run Time: 143 mins Cert: 12A


Synopsis: Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the movie tells the story of rich war veteran Jay Gatsby and his neighbour Nick Carraway.


The movie begins on Long Island, New York in 1922 when Nick Caraway (Tobey Maguire) a war veteran and University graduate, decides to rent a house there while working in the city. On moving there, he hears stories about his neighbour Mr Gatsby (Leonardo Dicaprio) which he is intrigued by. One night he is invited to one of Gatsby’s many parties and a friendship begins.


Of the two lead males, Dicaprio gives the stronger performance. He is both entertaining and believable as the title character. His love for Daisy (Carey Mulligan) is the root of everything he does and drives his desire to be rich and powerful.


Maguire on the other hand gives a rather dull performance as Nick. His character oesn’t do much except observe and assist Gatsby although his narration is good.


British actress Carey Mulligan gives a reasonably good performance as Daisy, Nick’s cousin and Gatsby’s lover. However the character is not particularly likeable. She doesn’t know what she wants and tries to have the best of both worlds. There are times when you feel sorry for her but as the story progresses this is less so.


While Daisy’s husband is not the most likeable character, Joel Edgerton gives a fairly good performance. The supporting cast also do a good job with one cast member in particular being unrecognisable until the very end.


Despite being set in the 1920s, the film contains modern day pop music as well as new covers of the era’s music. With songs performed by artists such as Beyonce and Florence and the Machine, the soundtrack is one of the movie’s strong points.


The 3D was very disappointing. Given that most of the movie’s scenes are at night, there is little room for 3D and the daytime scenes under-utilise it.


Overall “The Great Gatsby” is very average. While there are some good performances and a great soundtrack, the film feels a bit flat and drags towards the end.


Reviewed by Lesley Logan